An 11 hour flight due west of England will take you to what is said to be the gay capital of the world - San Francisco. The Golden GateBridge and AlcatrazIsland (once a prison to America's deadliest villains) are two of its most historic features. San Francisco is also well known for it's distinctive hilly landscape, used in many car-chase films and it's old traditional tram & cable car network.
A great time to visit is either Christmas or the week of the
Pride Festival. Pride is usually around the last weekend of June and considered to be one of the cities largest annual events, bringing total mayhem to the city centre. Hundreds of thousands of people line the main "Market Street" to watch thousands more parade and show off the extent of the wonderfully diverse LGBT community, anything from the gay garbage collectors to the gay sheriff department. It's colourful, tacky and hyped up in the way that only Americans know how.
The Pride party takes place under the grandiose auspices of the newly-renovated
City Hall Dome, never before used for such an event. It was the mother of all parties with a fantastic atmosphere, well over 3,000 muscle bound queens, dancing all sweaty and sexual together in a place fit for anything but. $50 (£30) will get you a ticket, but I'd recommend booking it at least 2 months in advance as it's always a sell out.
It's amazing just how gay populated this city is. Where ever you go there seems to be a freedom flag in sight. In the month of June over five hundred extra flags are flown from every lamppost from the Bay area to the Castro district. The burst of colour heralds the power and heritage of the gay community. The pink pound is extremely strong in the cities economy. A lot of political leaders are gay which helps with the attitude free atmosphere of the city.
The main central gay area is called The
Castrodistrict, a self equipped gay community. Club's, pubs, cafes and other such Homo venues are too numerous to list. The massive circuit parties and other large clubbing nights are all well advertised everywhere. The free gay press is also a great information source to find what ever temps your fancy or fetish!
The younger sexy boys tend to head out toFag Fridaysat
The EndUp(401 6th St.) on a Friday night. Metropolis(550 Barneveld) is one of the favourite Saturday night venues along with Pleasuredome (177 Townsend St.) called Universe on this night is well known for being the largest dance club around. Sunday clubbing kicks off early from with a T-dance style party at the legendary The EndUpclub. A large monthly T-dance called Mass at club 1015 (Folsom St.) is held the first Sunday of the month. It's very popular with the muscle boys - holding over 2,000 men and hosts six hours non-stop music.
The Café (2367 Market St.) is a much smaller club but very popular due to it's free entry 7 nights a week attracting a varied crowd, offering, pool, gaming machines and a balcony area to cool off.
The Stud (399 9th St.) provides an excellent opportunity for some cruising of the cute, preppy, twentysomething collegiate crowd. This is one of the longest-running clubs in SF, spinning disco faves from the 80's and 90's throughout the week.
If you're into leather and a bit of harder action, head for Hole In the Wall (289 8th Street), My Place (1225 Folsom),
Powerhouse (1347 Folsom St.) and
The 440 (440 Castro Street) a dark, seedy pub with a large mirror as a urinal! Need I say more!
For a bit of muscle building and fitness head for Market Street Gym(2301 Market St.) $38 (£25) for the week. It's got some great equipment and I'm not just talking machines! I'd also recommend Castro Sauna Party (635 Castro St.),
The Gym SF, the newly opened
Crunch (Van Ness St.) and the
Eros Sauna (2051 Market St.) where all the guys head at the end of the night!
The Castro district boasts it's own
theatre, which is one of the venues that plays host to the SF International Lesbian & Gay film festival, now in its 24th year! A week-long event showing over 100 programs including our very own explicit Queer As Folk.
If your into sight seeing then there are some interesting sights to be seen at the north end of BakerBeach, located just left of the Golden GateBridge. It's the main nudist beach and not surprisingly heavily populated by us gay boys, flaunting their man-hood for all to see. There's also a private and more exclusive gay beach called the SecretBeach further down the coast. It's not called this for nothing so you'll need a guide to get you there!
All up San Francisco in all is one big gay haven, it costs a lot more than your average European holiday because of its shear distance but worth saving up for. It's one of the most expensive cities in America yet still a lot cheaper than England. The best shopping is centred around Union Square which is home to all the big name shops / designers. I'd well recommend a trip (with your credit card) to
Macy's (America's largest department store) for a shopping experience that can't be missed!
I've visited this city twice. The first was also my virgin voyage to America back in December of 1998.
The Second was for the Pride festival in June 1999 with my
The best up to date information before you travel, along with some good accommodation advice, can be found on the Internet. Here are a few good sites worth checking out:-